Tamaya Dennard reports to federal prison in West Virginia

Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 10:46 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Former Cincinnati City Council Member Tamaya Dennard is in federal custody at Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia, a female detention facility.

She turned herself in on Tuesday, prison officials say.

Dennard, 42, was sentenced late last year to 18 months after pleading guilty to honest services wire fraud. Bribery and attempted extortion charges were dropped.

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed her report to prison date until March 1, 2021, and then Tuesday, federal court records show.

She also was ordered to pay a $15,000 money judgment against her.

Dennard will be supervised for three years once the prison sentence is finished, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.

We have a request for comment from her lawyer and will update this story when we hear back.

Dennard did post to social media saying:

“Thank you everyone for your kind words and messages. I’m absolutely feeling good and optimistic about my future.

“You have my word that I will remain strong and as focused as ever. Nothing or no one will EVER take my pride, my hope or my smile. I will never stop being kind, gracious and warm. I know who I am and whose I am.

“The thing I hate the most is that I left the most vulnerable and marginalized people in Cincinnati without anyone willing to go to the mat for them on Cincinnati City Council. But always remember that energy is neither created or destroyed; it’s transferred. I still have things to do.

“I’m eternally grateful for your loyalty and support. No matter what I go through, I always know that I’m going to be alright. #HappyPride #BendButDontBreak”

She was arrested in downtown Cincinnati in February 2020, resigned from City Council the following month and has since admitted to selling her vote for money.

After entering her guilty plea in federal court in June 2020, Dennard admitted she accepted a total of $15,000 from a person doing business with the city who was an attorney for the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, in exchange for her votes at City Hall.

In return, Dennard promised and provided favorable action on behalf of the attorney and his clients, court records show.

Dennard’s attorney has said Dennard has suffered enough.

“She has been publicly humiliated,” Dennard’s attorney, Stephanie Kessler, wrote in court records late last year. “Not all defendants see their photo and their worst choices splashed over the media. It is difficult to deal with. She has lost friends and supporters.”

Dennard is one of three Cincinnati council members arrested on corruption charges last year amid a federal investigation that began in 2018.

Jeff Pastor was arrested Nov. 10, 2020, and P.G. Sittenfeld was arrested Nov. 19, 2020.

Both are accused of selling votes for a development project in the city.

They have pleaded not guilty, remain free on their own recognizance and are suspended from City Council.

Both men continue to collect their taxpayer-funded $65,000 annual salaries and medical benefits.

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